ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: SKODA OCTAVIA VRS ESTATE
A long-standing favourite, Motoring Journalist DAVID HOOPER, says Skoda’s latest Octavia vRS definitely ticks all the right boxes.
WHEN it comes to picking potent diesels, there’s plenty of choice these days, but if you don’t want to spend a fortune, then Skoda’s vRS models should be top of your shopping list.
I’m a long-standing fan of the Octavia range – after all, it has been the backbone of Skoda’s range as the brand has re-established itself in the last few years, and represents excellent value for money.
If it’s smiles per pound you’re after, I believe you’ll struggle to find better value in today’s market, especially if the car you choose comes with the vRS badge on its grille.
I have always loved the vRS for its combination of relatively understated looks and potent performance, and the latest models, with their more purposeful and imposing designs only reinforce that view. For those in the know, it’s a cracking performance car, but don’t take my word for it, ask the boys in blue. If you keep your eyes peeled, you will soon spot an Octavia vRS in police colours – or not. There are several unmarked versions in the hands of police drivers too, so that is testament to the car’s reliability and toughness. The police choose their vehicles carefully after rigorous appraisal procedures.
Buyers have a choice of hatch or estate bodystyles, with the range starting from £19,380 on the road.
You can have eithera 200bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, or a 2.0-litre TDI, developing 170bhp. Both models with come with a six-speed manual, or DSG gearbox if you prefer the gearchanges to be done for you, although flappy paddles do give you the choice of changing gear for yourself.
It was the more practical estate version I chose, powered by the diesel engine, and what a combination it is. I say more practical, but the hatchback has one of largest boots in its class, with 560 litres, while the estate has 580 litres of space. The estate comes with the added benefit of black roof rails, perfect for fitting a bike carrier to for a day out mountain biking.
With deeper bumpers, and sports seats with silver and black upholstery with the vRS logo embroidered into the backrest, the car looks superb, especially in this metallic blue colour which is my favourite, and sitting on the 18in Neptune sports alloys on lowered suspension.
It’s well equipped too. Imposing daytime running lights are now standard across the range, while these flagship models get luxuries like cruise control, dual zone air conditioning, a touchscreen radio with an integrated 6CD changer with an extra four speakers, and vRS kickplates on the sills.
Good to look at it may be, but it’s even better to drive. The three-spoke sports steering wheel is perfectly sized, just the right diameter and with a chunky feel, it adds to the car’s sporting theme. The 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds from the diesel engine is respectable, but not among the fastest hot hatches these days, indeed the petrol version is quicker, at 7.2 seconds, but the mid-range punch of the diesel car is addictive, and great fun. It despatches slow A-road traffic in the blink of an eye in fourth gear, and when you’ve time to have a look, the trip meter will report an average fuel consumption on a run in excess of 50mpg.
I took the car to visit our friend’s son who is at Oxford University, and achieved 53.5mpg on the trip there and back without really trying, while during my week with the car, it averaged 48.5mpg overall, which when you consider its performance, is hugely impressive.
The ride quality is quite firm and I think the damping could do with being very slightly softer to make it more comfortable to live with on an everyday basis, but people who buy performance cars expect firm spring settings.
The car handles well, turns in to corners accurately and offers good feedback to an enthusiastic driver, and of course, all the latest safety systems are in place to keep a watchful eye on you should things go wrong.
After spending a week at the wheel of the vRS, I was genuinely sorry to hand it back. I get to drive all sorts of cars, but few tick as many boxes as this car did. Good looking, practical, fast, economical, and reasonably priced. What more could you ask for?
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Skoda Octavia vRS Estate.
SKODA OCTAVIA RANGE: From S 1.4 16v 5dr (£12,615) to vRS 2.0 TDI CR DSG 5dr (£22,360).
ENGINE: 1968cc, 170bhp four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 149g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 140mph. 0-62mph in 8.4 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 37.7mpg.
Fuel tank: 55 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 14.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.